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Wait. What?! SOLDEN.

July 2, 2008

Yesterday, July 1st, was a very important day.

Why?

Because it marked the 145th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg?

Because it signified 63 years of income tax withholding in the United States?

Because Pamela Anderson turned 41 (well, most of her anyway)?

Nope. Nope. And noooope.

July 1st was a landmark occasion here in Belgium because it heralded the beginning of THE SALES.

Unlike in the US where “THE BIGGEST SALE of the CENTURY” rolls around twice a month, sales in Belgium occur twice a YEAR. I’m having trouble finding articles in English that explain the system, but as I understand it, the Belgian government actually regulates sales. By law, retail outlets may only cut prices as much as they would like & advertise these discounts to their hearts content provided it’s January or July.

And the other 10 months of the year? No clearance racks. Or One Day sales. Or additional discounts on top of the Super Saver coupon for Red Line items when you use your Macy’s card. (you can imagine how difficult this has been for me. I can count on two hands the number of regular price items I’ve purchased in the past 10 years.)

No. I mean, you’ll see special deals (2 tank tops for 25 Eur) or the occasional markdown, but it’s nothing like shopping in the US. And, from what I can tell, nothing in the US is compares with the madness of shopping during THE SALES.

Store windows covered with GIANT “SOLDEN” signs and bright neon -50%, -60%, –70%(!) everywhere you turn. Women AND men (granted, they’re European, but still) discussing the best ways to attack the shopping centers. The country truly went through a complete transformation between June 30 and July 1. My otherwise mild-mannered, generally non-materialistic Belgian colleague who had resigned herself to paying outrageous prices for everything from socks to bedding is suddenly a “deal hound” (her words). Amazing!

As for me, my only concern is that all the good stuff will be gone by the time I get a chance to join the masses in the search for savings. What if it’s like the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual sale? When all the normal colored bras go in the first two days? If you are like me and don’t show up until day 3 or day 4, all you have to choose from are the Neon collections, the complicated lace numbers that can’t be worn with t-shirts and the odd mesh ones. I mean, it’d be nice to finally buy myself a truly European outfit. Perhaps fit in at the office? Not sure that’s going to work if I’m wearing a neon skirt…

I don’t know. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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